Photo by Yosuke Hada
Earlier this month, we met up with Yu Miyashita in his hometown of Yamanashi, at the base of Mount Fuji. We sat on the floor at a quiet local Izakaya, waiting for our Sake to arrive, when I ask him about his upcoming projects. Reflecting on the title of his latest record, Homage, he explained that he wanted to express his gratitude to artists, writers and philosophers of the past; Da Vinci, Ionesco, Goethe, Novalis, Shusaku and Ende. “I have a very strong sense of what I want to do in music”, he tells me. “But having this sense means that I am always having struggles in my work, struggles that most people wouldn’t care about. Then at some point in my life, I started thinking that even if I can’t meet people in the same era that I could express all my thoughts and feelings to, I can still focus on great people from history, and the fact that those people existed has actually helped me in a big way”.
There’s something that makes perfect sense hearing Homage in the still, sedate environment of Yamanashi. On this record, Miyashita employs his masterful ability at creating musical scenarios, all of which carry with them a kind of, personal, introverted space. ‘To Leonardo’, for example, splits between desolated musique concrète and swelling orchestral flourishes; a kind of musical stream-of-conciousness that one can follow. ’To Novalis’ too, takes on a Basinskian form, laying and overlaying an achingly simple piano loop until it is fully sedimented into the mind. Nonetheless, there is great care taken not to patronise the listener by over-saturating the mix in sentimentality. There are beautiful melodies, but they exist fleetingly, and we hear them only in slivers and remnants.
Miyashita has a talent for marrying these discrete ideas with swirling cacophonies of noise, creating a powerful sense of battling against the awesome forces of nature. This is especially true for ‘To Michael’, the sister-track to ‘The Silent Pulse’, B-side of our Grind Analysts 12”. In ‘The Silent Pulse’, the rousing vocals penetrated through with clear and distinct clarity. In this rendition however, the chilling chorale takes on a more detached order, haunting the listener in short bursts of deathly hymns. You can stream previews of the album here, as well as hear the entirety of ‘To Michael’ — a very special exclusive for Stray Landings — below: